The European Commission’s so-called Venice Commission published its findings yesterday concerning the new Hungarian Constitution that Viktor Orban’s government gave the ‘green-white-red’ light to in April.
The Venice Commission (actually called the European Commission for Democracy through Law) reached the conclusion that the way the new constitution affords voting and other rights collectively to all ethnic Hungarians abroad is unfounded, thereby backing Slovakia’s position on the issue.
The revised Hungarian Constitution, which is supposed to take effect on 1 January 2012, affords certain rights to ethnic Hungarians abroad (like the right to dual citizenship and the right to vote) and critics fear that the move has expansive and nationalist objectives. It talks about Hungary being responsible for Hungarians abroad, denoting a certain extraterritorial extension of its powers, which is one of the fundamental problems.
In response, Slovakia took the position that the country of permanent residence has primary jurisdiction in respect of the human rights of national minorities, which is determined on an individual basis and cannot be applied collectively, as the Hungarian Constitution tries to do.
Slovakia’s position was confirmed by the Venice Commission, which stated that collective rights are not laid down by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already issued a statement saying it welcomed the findings of the Commission as this sets out how the new Hungarian Constitution should be applied in practice.